How much does bankruptcy cost in NYC?
The answer depends on whether you file pro se (without an attorney), with an attorney or pay a petition preparer to prepare your paperwork. I will try to outline the typical costs for each:
The filing fees recently increased to $306 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, $281 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and $1,213 for a Chapter 11 filing.
Credit Counseling and Debtor Education courses.
In order to obtain a bankruptcy discharge the Credit Counseling course must be taken before a case is filed and the debtor education must be taken after a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is filed. These courses can range from $0 to $500 each depending on where they are taken. Many of my clients take the courses for free online but I have heard of some attorneys charging $500 to take the courses as part of their fee. I provide all of my clients several options and most of them range between $15 to $25 per course.
Credit report with public records search.
In my opinion a credit report is one of the most valuable tools necessary to prepare a consumer bankruptcy petition. At my office we use a company called A Suite Solution, which provides an ultra comprehensive 3-bureau credit report as well as a thorough public records search. To my knowledge this is the absolute best, however very expensive, credit-reporting tool on the market. I do not charge my clients for this service. Many other attorneys use 2-bureau credit reports but I feel these reports often leave out important debts.
To my knowledge bankruptcy petition preparers are not allowed to pull credit reports. In order to pull credit reports an investigation is made into the practitioner’s office premises by the credit reporting bureaus. Because social security numbers and other vital information are listed on these reports most non-lawyers are not able to get access to this level of reporting.
If you contact Equifax, Transunion and Experian you can get a free report each year. You can also contact a private investigator to get the public records search.
Pro Se filings or bankruptcy petition preparers.
If you are looking for the cheapest way to file for bankruptcy, you can file pro se or without an attorney. If you prepare your own paperwork the process is free. If you have a petition preparer your case will not be free. I have heard that these preparers charge from $200 to $2000 to “construct” your paperwork. The problem is that they are often giving you legal advice by preparing your petition and are not allowed to do so. They are also not able to appear with you throughout your case. The only person who can appear with you is a licensed attorney in your district.
SEE ALSO: Beware Bankruptcy Petition Preparers
SEE ALSO: Pro Se Horror Stories
Almost every month when I attend 341 meetings I see debtors who have used petition preparers fall into serious trouble. The US Trustee will often go after the petition preparers and shut them down for practicing law without a license. For this reason they usually get shut down almost as quickly as they start up so you could be left without anyone to help you salvage your case. Then the US Trustee or Bankruptcy Trustee will often object to the debtor’s discharge or start forcibly liquidating the debtor’s assets. Importantly, once you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy you do not necessarily have the right to stop it.
When you file any case in Federal Court you should always at least consult with an attorney. Trying to learn this complex set of laws on your own is like trying to give yourself lifesaving heart surgery, it probably isn’t going to work out very well.
Similarly, if your case starts having issues that need to be resolved in the middle of a bankruptcy, most lawyers are either going to turn you away or charge very large fees.
How much will it cost to hire a NYC bankruptcy attorney?
Legal fees vary from attorney to attorney. However, you should know a few things. First, all bankruptcy attorneys are required to report their legal fees charged for each case to the US Trustee. If the fee is too high they may be required to refund it to the client. Second, many bankruptcy firms, like my own, charge flat fees and accept flexible payment plans.
For any bankruptcy case I offer free consultations. If a person wishes to hire my office I require $500 up front and any remainder is determined on a case-by-case basis. For $500 I can take calls from your creditors, pull your credit report and public records information, begin preparing and sometimes even file your case. My fees for a Chapter 7 usually range from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on the complexity of the case. Larger offices often charge up to $10,000 for a consumer Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
If you live in New York and are interested a free bankruptcy consultation please call 212-244-2882 anytime. The Law Office of William Waldner only practices Bankruptcy Law and is always here to help you.
This article is intended for educational purposes only. By reading this article no attorney-client relationship has been created.